Category Archives: trans fat

New study finds food labels mislead consumers about trans fat. Surprised?

????????????????????????????????????Nope. Not a bit. That’s because current food labels do mislead consumers when it comes to trans fat.

People may be consuming more trans fat than they think, as a result of misleading food labels, according to a study from the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Researchers examined 4,340 top-selling packaged foods and found that 9 percent contained partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat. But of those foods, 84 percent claimed on their packaging to have “0 grams” of trans fat.

The amount of trans fat in these products varied from small traces to almost 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the researchers said.

Under the rules of the Food and Drug Administration, foods that contain less than 0.5 g of trans fat per serving must be labeled with “0 g” of trans fat.
“This labeling is cause for concern because consumers, seeing the 0 g trans fat on the nutrition facts label, are probably unaware that they are consuming trans fat,” the researchers wrote in their study, published in the in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

Trans fat is a specific type of fat that is formed when hydrogen is added to liquid oils to turn them into solid fats. The FDA has tentatively determined that partially hydrogenated oils are not “generally recognized as safe” for consumption. If the FDA makes a final determination, trans fat would become an illegal food additive.

People who consume trans fat may be at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, studies have suggested.

The food products examined in the study ranged from cookies to salad dressing and canned soup.

“Our analysis demonstrates that industrial trans fat is still common in U.S. packaged foods, particularly in some food categories,” the researchers said.
For example, half of the foods in the potato chips category, and 35 percent of cookies contained trans fat, according to the report.

FoodFacts.com has been reporting on this phenomenon for years. Long story short — only educated and nutritionally aware consumers understand that 0 trans fat doesn’t always equal 0. As long as the product in question contains less than .5 grams, the manufacturer is permitted to list trans fat content as 0. The concern of course, is that if the consumer eats more than a single serving of that product, the trans fat can quickly add up. Take cookies for example, which were included in this research. An average serving size of cookies as listed on most packaging is three cookies. If you eat six cookies that contain .5 grams of trans fat per serving of three, you’ve consumed one gram of trans fat. Throw some canned soup in the mix for the day and maybe some potato chips and it’s really difficult to know exactly how much trans fat you’ve consumed in that 24 hour period.

This is a great reminder for those who already understand the facts about trans fat — and a great learning opportunity for those who didn’t yet understand — that just because you think it doesn’t contain trans fat, doesn’t mean that’s the case. We’re crossing our fingers that the proposed trans fat ban does become reality. In the meantime, let’s all remember that when it comes to nutrition labels, not every 0 represents the same thing.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/consumers-beware-misleading-labels-hide-trans-fats/

Misleading trans fat claims make news as Quaker settles labeling law suit

iStock_000041289832SmallWhen it comes to trans fat, FoodFacts.com has always been amazed that manufacturers are able to label foods containing less than .5 grams per serving as “trans fat free.” The labeling is false, it’s purposely misleading and it relies on the idea that consumers don’t understand ingredients. What manufacturers forget, though, is that there actually are educated consumers out there who understand that partially hydrogenated oils in an ingredient list indicate the presence of trans fat in a product. And some of them are willing to do something about misleading product claims.

The Quaker Oats Co., a division of Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo, Inc., has agreed to remove trans fats from its Oatmeal to Go and Instant Quaker Oatmeal products as part of a lawsuit settlement dating back more than three years.

Under terms of the settlement filed June 12 and made final on July 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Quaker Oats said it will pay up to $760,000 in attorney fees and estimates it will spend about $1.4 million to reformulate the products.

Although Quaker continues to deny allegations that the products contain or contained false or misleading labeling, the company has agreed to remove partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) from Oatmeal to Go and Instant Quaker Oatmeal by the end of 2015. Quaker also has agreed not to re-introduce PHOs into those products for at least 10 years thereafter, and has agreed not to introduce PHOs into Quaker Chewy bars, or the Instant Quaker Oatmeal Products that do not currently contain PHOs, for a period of 10 years. Finally, Quaker has agreed to stop making the statement “contains a dietarily insignificant amount of trans fat” on the labels of any of its products that contain 0.2 grams or more of artificial trans fat per serving by the end of this year.

Approximately 50 different varieties of Quaker’s Instant Oatmeal and Chewy and Oatmeal to Go bars were named in the settlement.

So even though Quaker is still standing by its product statements, they’ve agreed to remove trans fat from the products named in the lawsuit. Nothing wrong with the products, seemingly, just that pesky lawsuit.

We don’t really think that’s it. Instead, we think that it makes more sense for Quaker to settle out of court so that the company can stand by its claims and its products while making some quiet changes than to let this go to court where millions of other consumers may develop a clear understanding of what’s really in their products.

This is a victory for consumers, undoubtedly. At the same time, we’d really rather that the strange rule about claiming 0 grams of trans fat when products really do contain it would disappear.

http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Business_News/2014/08/Quaker_settles_trans_fat_label.aspx?ID=%7B84BC2EC0-2C7E-45A4-9A3A-F87392B80CBB%7D

Canola oil … heart healthy or not?

200017_10150140302023407_7125221_n.jpgOlive oil comes from olives. Peanut oil comes from peanuts. Coconut oil comes from coconuts. Did you ever stop to think where canola oil comes from? Is there any such thing as a canola plant?

The answer to that question is, “sort of.”

Let’s make this clearer. Today’s canola plant is a biologically modified cousin of the rapeseed plant, which is part of the mustard family. Rapeseed plants produce a substance called erucic acid that can be toxic in large amounts. So rapeseed oil is not actually fit for human or animal consumption. It is used, however, as a lubricant, fuel, soap and synthetic rubber base. It can also be found in insect repellents. The canola plant was developed in Canada during the 1960s and 70s in order to assure its safety for human consumption. That’s where the name comes from. It stands for Canadian Oil Low Acid.

So today there is a canola plant that exists because of the rapeseed plant, whose oil is inedible. The oil from the canola plant is not only edible, but, according to most sources, is better for consumption than many other available oils. It’s a good source of monounsaturated fats, the kind that, when used to replace saturated fats like butter and cheese, can help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. Canola oil is also a source of omega-3 fatty acids that have also been linked to heart health.

Still, there’s plenty of conflicting information out there. And because FoodFacts.com believes in consumer education, we thought it would be beneficial to report on the “other side” of canola oil.

Let’s begin with how the oil is extracted from the seeds of the canola plant. It appears that most canola oil is processed using hexane, which is a known carcinogen. The industry actually admits that trace amounts of hexane can be found in the finished product, but these amounts are insignificant. To be fair, many different vegetable oils, including soybean oil are processed the same way.

In addition to the use of hexane, the oil is removed using high temperature mechanical pressing. The presence of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the oil cause it to become foul-smelling during this high-heat process. It then becomes necessary to deodorize the oil. Because of the high-heat involved, both processes remove much of the omega-3s by turning them into trans fatty acids. The Canadian government lists the trans fat content of canola at just .2 percent.

And to add more conflicting information into the discussion, there are further reports that heating canola oil above 120 degrees will cause the formation of more trans fatty acids, again because of the breakdown of the remaining omega-3s. Most cooking classes teach that in order to saute protein properly, fat should be introduced into a pan heated to at least 212 degrees, depending on the fat used. So if the reports about heating canola oil over 120 degrees causing the formation of trans fats are realistic, we’re consuming more trans fat every time we cook using the oil.

These are just a few of the arguments against canola oil and its current status as a healthy fat for cooking. There are plenty of arguments out there in its favor though. Regardless of those, FoodFacts.com does think it’s important to repeat that nature didn’t create a canola plant. People did. As the FDA is considering a ban on trans fat in the food supply, we certainly think we could all use more clarity here.

http://www.naturalnews.com/043948_canola_oil_hidden_health_dangers_food_bar.html
http://www.naturalhealth365.com/food_news/canola-oil.html
http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/component/content/article/64-feature-writer-article/2570&Itemid=8

Are Girl Scout Cookies “doing a good turn” for American consumers?

FoodFacts.com has a question for our community … can you tell us what Partially Hydrogenated Oils, Artificial Flavors, Natural Flavors, Caramel Color, Sorbitol, Carrageenan and GMO ingredients have in common with Samoas, Tagalongs, Thin Mints, Do-Si-Dos and Dulce De Leches?

If your answer was these are the controversial ingredients found in our favorite Girl Scout Cookies, you were, sadly, 100% correct. And FoodFacts.com wanted to highlight that some of our favorite, traditional cookies from our nation’s premier non-profit organization for girls has some serious work to do to bring their branded cookies up to date with their decades’ old and admirable values.

Since 1912, the Girl Scouts’ slogan has been “Do a good turn daily.” The slogan is to stand as a reminder of the many ways girls can contribute positively to the lives of others. FoodFacts.com understands how the Girl Scouts shapes the lives of girls in our country positively, year after year. We just think that as an organization they should embody their own slogan and “Do a good turn daily” in the lives of others by insisting on the improvement of the ingredient lists on the cookie products that carry their logo.

During the first quarter of 2012, the Girl Scouts of the USA generated over $700 million in cookie sales. That’s enough cookies to make the non-profit the number three cookie company in the U.S. It’s a very impressive statistic and translates into the consumption of millions of Samoas (Caramel deLites), Tagalongs (Peanut Butter Patties) and Thin Mints. Depending on your location in the U.S., the Girl Scout Cookies you purchase are baked by either Little Brownie Bakers (a subsidiary of Keebler which is owned by Kellogg’s) or ABC Bakers (owned by George Weston Limited). Both companies are licensed by the Girl Scouts to produce the 11 varieties of cookies currently available (according to the Girl Scout Cookie website). The bakers can use different names for the cookies and there is no attempt to standardize the names between the bakeries at this juncture.

Unfortunately, the Girl Scouts organization has been petitioned a few times by concerned consumers regarding the ingredients their bakers are including in their branded cookies. They were urged to address the use of Hydrogenated Oils. Consumers have suggested that the use of Hydrogenated Oils (as well as other controversial items) is in direct conflict with the Girl Scouts efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle among their young members. In 2007, the Girl Scouts of the USA announced that all their cookies had less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving, which allowed them to meet the FDA requirements for “zero trans fat” labeling. While that’s an improvement, it certainly doesn’t change the idea that there are many, many consumers who aren’t stopping at one serving.

Artificial and Natural Flavors, as well as Caramel Color, Sorbitol and Carrageenan are common on many of the ingredient lists. In addition, consumers have petitioned the Girl Scouts to remove Genetically Modified ingredients from their cookies.

You can review the ingredient information and nutritional content for some of the most popular cookie varieties on our website. Click through for Samoas, Tagalongs and Thin Mints:

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Coconut-Cookies/Girl-Scout-Cookies-Samoas-715/86461
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Other-Cookies/Girl-Scout-Tagalongs-Cookies-15-cookies/86462
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Chocolate-Flavored-Cookies/Girl-Scout-Cookies-Thin-Mints-8-oz/86460

FoodFacts.com believes in the mission of the Girl Scouts of the USA. We understand that they empower girls from a young age to be responsible, accountable citizens ready to take their place as productive adults in our society. And we are all for the idea of helping girls across our nation understand the importance of being willing to serve and do a job well. We also really love buying Girl Scout Cookies to help raise funds for this very worthy organization. But, we’d also love to see that organization take its own words to heart and improve the quality of the ingredients chosen for the cookies so many Americans are consuming each and every year.

10 ways food labels mislead consumers

Day after day we learn more about how misleading food labels continue to dupe consumers with keywords and bold statements that feed into people’s dietary needs and weight loss goals. This doesn’t mean all food labels are lying because plenty of products are “fat free” or made with “real fruit,” but what about the other nutritional facts or ingredients?

Foodfacts.com observes that, unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate all food labels and cannot keep food manufacturers from using clever wording to avoid a potential lawsuit. What you can do is read the nutritional facts and ingredients list to find the truth behind the fancy wording and manipulative marketing. Here are 10 misleading food labels to look out for:

* “Zero grams trans fat”
Since trans fat have become the ultimate no-no in today’s diet, many companies have cut trans fat from their products. However, it has led way to a manipulative marketing move to promote 0 grams of trans fat, without indicating the product’s level of saturated and total fat. Food labels know people are looking for the label that says “0 grams trans fat,” but they may skip over the saturated and total fat amount, which is just as important.

* “All natural”
The “all natural” stamp is one of the most abused and misleading food labels used by food manufacturers today. Many of these so-called “all natural” products use citric acid, high-fructose corn syrup and other unnatural additives, but still get to bear that positive label. Always check the ingredients list to know exactly what’s in your food.

* “Whole grains”
Chances are you’ve seen the label, “Made with Whole Grains,” pop up on bread, crackers or rice products now more than ever. The reality is that many of these whole grain products are actually made with refined wheat flour and maybe a small percentage of whole grains. In order to check the validity of the whole grains label, check out the listed ingredients. Unless “whole grains” is one of the first ingredients on the list or if you see “enriched wheat flour,” it’s likely that your product contains a small percentage of whole grains.

* “Fiber”
Food products that contain fiber has become a growing trend in the food industry because consumers are looking for foods that are going to keep them fuller for longer, help regulate their digestive systems and lower their blood sugar. Shoppers might see their favorite cereal bar or yogurt is labeled “a good source of fiber,” but they won’t see where the fiber comes from listed anywhere. Many of the products you find with the label “contains fiber” actually contain isolated fibers, like inulin, maltodextrin, pectin, gum and other purified powders that are added to boost the not-so-fibrous foods.

* “Light”
When a food label says “light” as in “extra light olive oil,” consumers are misled to think that a product is light in fat or the fat content has been cut in half. Unless the product says reduced fat, “light” is generally referring to a lighter color of the original product, such as light-colored olive oil.

* “Heart healthy”
Many of today’s foods claim to be “heart healthy,” but don’t have FDA approval or scientific evidence to support such bold claims. These types of “heart healthy” labels mislead consumers into thinking they will improve their heart health by eating this particular food. Considering that heart disease is the number one killer in America, this food label is dangerous to promote if it’s not true.

* “Low fat”
The label “low fat” can be very misleading to consumers because, while it may be low in fat, it may also be loaded with sugar or sodium that won’t be highlighted. In addition, manufacturers are playing into people’s awareness of fats and efforts to lower their fat intake by advertising exactly what they’re looking for. Don’t be fooled by a “low fat” food label without examining the rest of the nutrition facts, and making sure that the product is well-balanced and healthy in its other areas.

* “Low sugar”
Just like “low fat” indicators, “low sugar” food labels are misleading for consumers because it plays up one nutritional factor to downplay a not-so-healthy factor, such as a high amount of calories, sugars or fat. Manufacturers also get around saying “contains sugar” by saying “lightly sweetened” or “no sugar added,” but you have to look at how much sugar is in each serving to know for sure.

* “Free range”
The “free range” food label can be found on meat, dairy and eggs at your local grocery store, but this progressive way of farming is not always as it seems. What consumers may not know and won’t see on their “free range” foods is that the USDA regulations only apply to poultry. Therefore, “free range” beef, pork and other non-poultry animals were fed grass and allowed to live outdoors, but their products are not regulated by the USDA. Another misconception consumers have about “free range” is that these products are also organic. Unless it’s labeled free range AND organic, free range animals may be fed nonorganic fed that could contain animal byproducts and hormones.

* “Fresh”
The “fresh” food label can be very misleading to consumers, by making them think their chicken was killed the day before, or their “freshly squeezed” orange juice was prepared that day. The label “fresh” simply means that it was not frozen or is uncooked, but many of these products are allowed to be chilled, kept on ice or in modified atmospheres to keep them from spoiling.

Foodfacts.com does not endorse specific views about nutrition or exercise, but presents interesting news and information worth reading about. As always, consult a physician or nutrition professional before making any major changes to your diet. Be sure to SCORE your foods so that you’re empowered to make good food choices. The Food Facts Health Score is FREE to use with your free membership at Foodfacts.com.

Plant-based diets and their affect on coronary heart disease

FoodFacts.com wanted to share this important information regarding coronary heart disease with our community. This new information may have an impact on the dietary habits of you, your family or friends.

While we’ve always known that risk for coronary disease is impacted by one’s diet, and that a plant-based diet can, in fact, stop the disease from progressing or even actually reverse it, a new article is suggesting that fats in your diet play a large part in your risk of ever developing it.

W.C. Willet (Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health) has written an article linking consumption of fats to coronary heart disease risk. In publishing his report, Dr. Willett reviewed 95 various studies. What he found might help us understand how each type of dietary fat influences the development of coronary heart disease.

The findings state that trans fats are clearly related to the risk of coronary heart disease and should be completely eliminated from our diets. Noted is the presence of partially hydrogenated oils in so many food products. Also noted is the fact that both beef and dairy products contain natural trans fats.

Moving on to saturated fats, his findings indicate that consumption should be reduced and most optimally replaced by polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. In addition replacing saturated fats with specific carbohydrates (that do not contain added sugars) will reduce coronary heart disease risk even further.

While Dr. Willett also specifies that it may be important to achieve a low ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. While both of these are important to reduce the risk of heart disease, it is felt that Americans have a high intake of omega-6 from vegetables. He cites both corn and soybean oil as undesirable because they contain high levels of omega-6.

What he’s concluding is that by reducing red meat and dairy while increasing nuts, fish and better vegetable oils, we can improve our intake of the fatty acids that protect us from heart disease. But he goes further stating that diets emphasizing fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in refined starches, sugars and salt will do the most to reduce the possibility of developing heart disease. In other words, a plant-based diet is the way to go to ward off this disease.

FoodFacts.com wants you to have the information you need to make the best decisions for yourself and your family when it comes to dietary choices. Read more here: http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Nutrition/Diet/dietary_fat_and_coronary_heart_disease_0815120714.html

“But the label says no trans fat, so it’s fine” … exploring a modern myth

On the FoodFacts Facebook page this week, we’ve looked at products containing Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil and Partially Hydrogenated Canola Oil, There are at least a few more “Partially Hydrogenated” oil substances to delve into in terms of food ingredients. But as we looked more closely at the subject, we realized that this is a very important topic for this blog.

We feel very strongly about education and even though trans fat is something you always hear about, we think, perhaps, we all need to be reminded of exactly how it is, or isn’t, being regulated. And that all depends on how you look at it.

First let’s make this point. Any oil listed as a food ingredient that begins with the phrase “partially hydrogenated” signifies the presence of trans fat in the food product it’s included in. It is impossible for the use of any partially hydrogenated oil not to result in a certain amount of trans fat. It doesn’t matter what type of oil is undergoing the process … vegetable, canola, sunflower, cottonseed – it all results in the same thing.

So here’s a random (and partial) ingredient list:
Citric Acid, Glycerol, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Potassium Sorbate, Flavoring Natural, Wheat Flour, Wheat Whole, BHT, Caramel Color, Corn Syrup, Barley Malted Syrup, Corn Syrup Malted, Niacinamide (Vitamin aB), Canola Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Sunflower Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Iron Reduced,  Salt, Vitamin A (Retinol Palmitate), Vitamin B6, Whey, Zinc Oxide, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Folic Acid (Vitamin aB), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D

And here’s that ingredient list’s corresponding nutrition label:
You’ll note that the Trans Fat line reads 0 grams.

It’s within FDA requirements. The product hasn’t lied, they haven’t made a mistake and they haven’t been mislabeled. But the product still contains trans fat – even though it says it doesn’t.

According to the FDA, any product whose trans fat level falls below .5 grams per serving can list itself as having NO trans fat. Maybe that doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal, but it really can be and it’s really something we should all pay attention to.

There is no RDA for trans fat in the United States. In fact, all we’ve heard is that we should consume as little trans fat per day as possible. It’s just downright bad for us … trans fats add to weight gain and obesity problems, they help clog arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. There’s even research that points to the contribution of trans fats to the risk of diabetes.

Let’s assume that you have one serving of 5 different food products marked 0 g. trans fat per day. Let’s also assume that each of those servings actually contains .45 g of trans fat. You just consumed 2.25 g of a fat that has no determined level of safety!

The labeling of trans fat is regulated … sort of. Anything over .5 g per serving has to be noted on the nutrition label and anything below that counts as a 0.

Since it’s only a “sort of” regulation, it leads us to determine that until things change, we need to regulate ourselves. Any additional trans fat is unhealthy.

FoodFacts.com wants to keep you focused on your healthy lifestyle. Be a savvy consumer and be able to identify the myriad of products that contain trans fat. Keep reading, but make sure you’re reading more than nutrition labels. You need to read ingredient lists and keep your attention on the words “Partially Hydrogenated”. That’s the key to determining whether or not the product you’re considering actually contains trans fat.

Unhappy Meal … Bad food isn’t just harmful to your body, it may be harmful to your mind too!

9227396-portrait-of-sad-woman-with-burger-over-white-background1Foodfacts.com wants to pass this information along to our community, as we feel it can really help influence your eating habits and your life.  A Spanish study published in the U.S. in early 2011 confirms that consumption of foods high in trans-fats and saturated fats increases the risk of depression.  There had been previous studies linking fast food and junk foods to the disease and this most recent study confirms them.

Importantly, researchers also showed that products like olive oil, which is high in healthy omega-9 fatty acids, can fight against the risk of mental illness.

The study followed and analyzed the diet and lifestyle of over 12,000 volunteers for over six years.  At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had been diagnosed with depression.  By the end of the study, 657 of the volunteers were new sufferers.  Those volunteers with an elevated consumption of trans-fats which are defined as fats present in artificial form in industrially-produced foods and pastries) presented up to a 48 percent increase in the risk of depression in comparison to those volunteers who did not consume these fats.  It was noted that the more trans-fats were consumed, the greater the harmful effect was produced in volunteers.

Simultaneously it was found that the impact of polyunsaturated fats which are composed of larger amounts of fish and vegetable oils, as well as olive oil, was associated with a lower risk of suffering depression.

It was noted that the test group for the study was composed of a European population that enjoys a relatively low intake of trans-fats, making up only about .4% of the total caloric intake of the volunteers studied.  Regardless of the normally low levels of trans-fat consumption of the test group, there was an increase in the risk of depression of almost 50%.   It was noted that the U.S. population derives about 2.5% of its caloric intake from these trans-fats.

Depression rates have been rising worldwide in recent years.  This important study points to the possibility that that rise may be attributable to the changes in fat sources of Western diets.   Gradually we have been substituting beneficial polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats derived from nuts, vegetables and fish for the saturated and trans-fats found in meats, butters and other mass-produced food products like fast food.

FoodFacts will continue to follow this and other similar stories and keep you updated

The Buzz on Trans-Fat

glacial_freeze

Foodfacts.com mission is to educate consumers on making more educated and well-thought food choices. We’ve gotten many questions in the past regarding the controversy with trans-fat. We’re going to explain the background on trans-fats with tips on how to avoid them too!
Gerber Graduates
First, you have to be able to recognize trans-fat ingredients on a food label, because even though a product may lists 0g trans-fat, this may not be the case. Foods with less than 0.5g of trans fats per serving are considered by the government to be trans-fat free. However, if you eat peanut butter for instance, which normally contains a small amount of trans fat to reduce separation; chances are many won’t be eating just 1 serving. Therefore, you’ll be consuming more than just 0.5g, and this is not healthy.
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Partially Hydrogenated vs. Fully Hydrogenated

Fast food burgers, popcorn, pretzels, some sodas, breakfast cereals, and thousands of other products contain one common ingredient, partially hydrogenated oil. At first sight some may think, “well it’s only partially hydrogenated, so it can’t be that bad.” However partially hydrogenated oils are far worse than fully hydrogenated oils, because they are the culprits which contain trans-fatty acids.

When hydrogen is added to an oil (whether it be vegetable, canola, soy, etc.) the process is referred to as hydrogenation. This process changes the physical properties of the fat, often turning the product into a more semi-solid composition, such as margarine. This increases the melting point in frying foods, extends shelf-life, and produces a more appealing texture in baked goods.
green-giant-simply-steam
Fully hydrogenated oils have little to no remaining trans fat after the hydrogenation process. The consistency of this fat is more solid, even at room temperature. It’s physical properties make it too difficult for some to use during baking and frying methods, so it may be hard to find unlike partially hydrogenated fats. Also, this fully hydrogenated oil contains more saturated fat, often stearic acid which is normally converted in the body to oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat. This makes fully hydrogenated oils less harmful than that of partially hydrogenated.

And just to be extra clear, if a label reads “hydrogenated oil,” this doesn’t it’s necessarily free of trans-fat. These fats are used interchangeable, so make good decisions and be careful to scan ingredient lists for these fats!

A new genetically modified soybean

iron-source-edamame-soybeans-lg
Foodfacts.com recently came across an article which we found interesting pertaining to soybeans. Soybean oil has received some negative attention for including trans fats, which as we all know, has been linked to cardiovascular disease. The soybean industry took a hard hit with the limited amount of soybean oil sales and came up with a new solution, genetic modification. Check out the article below to learn more!

The soybean industry is seeking government approval of a genetically modified soybean it says will produce oil lower in saturated fat, offer consumers a healthier alternative to foods containing trans fats and increase demand for growers’ crops.

Demand for soybean oil has dropped sharply since 2005, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began requiring labels to list levels of trans fats, which have been linked to coronary heart disease. Vegetable oil does not naturally contain trans fats, but when hydrogen is added to make it suitable for use in the food industry, trans fats are created.

Agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. says oil from its new soybean will meet manufacturers’ requirements for baking and shelf life without hydrogenation, resulting in food that’s free of trans fats as well as lower in saturated fat.

The FDA approved the new bean, called Vistive Gold, earlier this year, and Monsanto and several state and national soybean groups are now seeking approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service said in an email to The Associated Press that it has no timeline for making a decision.

U.S. farmers harvested more than 3.3 billion bushels of soybeans valued at nearly $39 billion in 2010. But the Iowa Soybean Association said in a letter to APHIS the industry’s share of the food oil market dropped from 83 percent to 68 percent after the FDA enacted the labeling requirements. Iowa grows more soybeans than any other state.

“We believe because of the trans-fat labeling, 4.6 billion pounds of edible soybean oil was not used for food over a three-year period,” said Bob Callanan, a spokesman for the American Soybean Association. The oil was turned into biodiesel instead, and farmers got less money for their soybeans, he said.

Industry officials believe Vistive Gold could command as much as 60 cents more per bushel than other soybeans, raising a farmer’s income by thousands of dollars.

Jim Andrew, who grows 625 acres of conventional soybeans near Jefferson, Iowa, said he hopes Vistive Gold soybeans also will reduce consumers’ fears about biotech crops by providing a direct health benefit. Most genetically modified crops so far have been engineered to fight pests and increase harvests, benefiting farmers.

“I think it’s a case where we’re trying to modify crops to address specific needs to make other industries more efficient and healthier,” Andrew said.

St. Louis-based Monsanto introduced a first generation of the bean, called Vistive, in 2005 to reduce or eliminate trans fats in response to the labeling requirements. Vistive Gold retains those qualities and offers lower levels of saturated fat and higher levels of healthier monounsaturated fats.

Joe Cornelius, a Monsanto project manager who has worked on the Vistive soybeans for 15 years, said Vistive Gold could make a real difference in efforts to produce healthier foods. As an example, he said it could produce French fries with more than 60 percent less saturated fat.

“I don’t think we can say fried food will ever be a health food, but you can improve the nutritional profile of that food,” Cornelius said.

But Bill Freese, a science policy analyst with the Center for Food Safety, said Vistive Gold and other engineered crops don’t face rigorous enough testing. No animal feeding trials were conducted on the new soybean to see what would happen when it was consumed, he said.

And, the FDA approved it based on the agency’s review of a similar soybean produced by another company, not an actual review of Vistive Gold, he said, adding, “That struck me as very odd.”

Without proper scrutiny, genetically modified crops have a “high potential for harmful and unintended consequences,” such as increased toxicity that could make someone sick or decreased nutritional content, he said.

“Not every genetically modified crop is going to be dangerous,” Freese said. “The bottom line is we need to have a really stringent regulatory system, which we currently don’t have.”

Monsanto said it tested Vistive Gold extensively and found it to be safe. A notice posted on the APHIS website in June said its assessment of Vistive Gold indicated the bean wasn’t a risk to other plants.

Walter Fehr, an Iowa State University agronomist involved in soybean breeding research, said he thinks the federal government has a stringent and effective procedure for reviewing genetically modified crops and he saw no reason to question the soybean’s safety.

“People use different methodologies for different things, and scientists are very aware of potential negative side effects,” Fehr said.

(The Sacramento Bee)